tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC June 5, 2011 7:00am-7:30am EDT
number nine, number nine, number nine. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, if the opposition to obama wasn't zany, so dreadful, so both, this is what we would be talking about. more than any republican presidential candidate, the one thing president obama should fear the most is the unemployment rate. today it ticked up to 9.1%. mitt romney creating a new form of birtherism called obama's
policies european. why can't the republicans focus on the president's job performance instead of his origins? our top story tonight, president obama's race against the unemployment number. plus, former democratic presidential candidate john edwards was indicted today on six counts of taking illegal campaign contributions which prosecutors say he used to cover up his extramarital affair and baby. edwards decided to reject a plea agreement and fight the charges in court. so is this, my question, a legitimate use of campaign law? and sarah palin's triumphant media-grabbing week speaks volumes about the tea party power and the weakness of the regular republican field. not only did she big foot mitt romney and eclipse his announcement up in new hampshire, she practically knocked him off the front page of new hampshire's main newspaper. how is that for a final insult to the gop front-runner? also, if congressman anthony weiner is really an innocent victim in this mess, why didn't he turn to the fbi or capitol
police? instead he seems to be mishandling his twitter scandal at every turn. the latest debacle, his office called the cops yesterday on a reporter who showed up and dared to ask him a question. let me finish tonight with the best example of sticking to it, no matter how bad things get. i caught the nba game last night. let's start with the new unemployment number. 9.1%, up a tenth of a point. and what it means for the president? ed rendell, former governor of pennsylvania and former chairman of the dnc and michael steele, former chairman of the rnc. dueling banjos. thank you. both msnbc political analysts. gentlemen, honor to have you both on tonight for this friday. governor rendell, for the defense, the president had a top economic adviser, christine romer, she's no longer with the team. before she left she said he will have it down to 8% by the end of the first year. does the president have a problem by his own standards with a 9.1% ticking up unemployment rate? >> well, sure. i think your analysis at the
outset of the show is right. there's no republican candidate can beat barack obama, only the economy can beat him. there is a very good, cogent answer. that is when he took over as president we were losing 750,000 jobs a month, chris. over the last several months we've averaged close to 200,000 jobs gained each and every month. that's a turnaround of almost 1 million jobs a month. and it's directly related to the stimulus, to the auto bailout, to t.a.r.p., which did, in fact, stabilize the financial system in this country, and i think people are becoming grudgingly to that conclusion. to the tax cuts, there were $350 billion of tax cuts in the original stimulus plan. i think there's a good argument. and the president's next argument is, look, i've charted out an investment future for this country. we should invest in robust infrastructure bill, we should invest in renewable and alternative energy, we should invest in research and development. those are the things that are important and will create good
well-paying jobs and it's the republicans that have stymied that. >> here is your opportunity. still 9.1%. what are you going to make of it? >> the governor laid out the indictment against the president. all the things that were done, over $1 trillion in the last year, in the year before that, another $1 trillion of spending. where are we? unemployment number is going in the wrong direction. that's because still the people who create the jobs in this country, not the government, the business owners. i don't care what size they are or where they are, they're the ones that are driving this thing. they're not having the confidence of getting this job done. they don't have the confidence in the president's policy. there's still an uncertainty after all the spending that we've done -- >> i agree. look, that's a problem. go ahead, governor, your thought. your thought, governor. >> michael, you have to be correct to the facts. the stimulus wasn't $870 billion in spending. it included $350 billion in tax cuts. the same tax cuts that republicans had been calling for. >> wait a minute. governor, are you for tax cuts or against tax cuts? because now if you're going to
lay out the tax cuts in this stimulus bill as a good thing, then how are calling for more tax cuts now a bad thing? >> no, what i'm saying -- >> this is the problem. this is the disingenuous -- >> he said the president had a mix of spending increase and tax cuts. there's a mix. is that wrong? >> that's why we have deficits. you cannot spend and cut taxes. >> i like this, governor. let's take a look at the latest tracking poll of the president. despite this number which is no friend to the president of 9.1%, he's at 53%. he hasn't been this high in a long time. he's been at 50% most of the time. going up this time. this disapproval number's down to 39%. the lowest it's been. i want to jump ahead here to mitt romney. i don't understand why he's running for president. he doesn't look like he wants to be president. he was born for it. here's romney's latest -- salvo, somebody wrote salvo on the teleprompter. let's go with it. i don't think he knows how to do a salvo. he accused the president of
having a white collar birtherism. let's listen. >> folks wonder, how is it that president obama was so wrong? how could he have made so many mistakes relating to our economy? and i happen to think that he took his inspiration from europe. and why do i say that? because when the europeans were in trouble economically, they spent more money and borrowed more money. and that's what he did. he's been awfully european. european policies don't work there. they sure as heck aren't going to work here. >> last time around, let's keep race out of it for five seconds. last time around they accused john kerry of being french. they said it again and again. oh, no, this is not a funny thing, michael. there's a weird thing about your political party. it's nativist. it is weird. obama -- you have a big chunk of the republicans who say he wasn't born here, he's from africa or somewhere. now you have this sophisticated prep school educated governor of massachusetts out there saying he's awfully european. what in hell does that mean? to an average guy out there, what does it mean? >> the average guy out there gets it apparently more than you
do. >> i don't get it at all. i consider it a slur. >> it's not a slur. it's a recognition of his philosophical orientation that's much more -- >> he's inspired by europe. >> much more geared toward a european-style model of -- >> no, it's that he's inspired by europe. what does that mean? >> that's the point. inspired by the programs and policies -- >> governor, translate what he's saying into -- what is the -- i like the fact -- you two fellows are pros and you're arguing about economics. do a tax cut, a mix of tax cuts, spending increase. what's the smart move? that's good american argument. we'll be doing that when we're 1,000 years old. going into the origins of the guy. governor rendell, help me here, why does a sophisticated waspy republican call the president european? what does that mean politically? >> michael has always been better than most of the people in his party. he's never resorted to that. this is name calling. he could have said, michael, the president spends too much money,
the president hasn't solved our economic problems. he doesn't have to use what's clearly a slur designed to ignite american anti-french, anti-european feelings. they have to attack barack obama on policy. if they don't do that, they shouldn't run for president. plain and simple as that. this is america. barack obama is as american as you are, michael. he's american as i am. he's american as chris is. nobody complained about him not being american when he ordered those s.e.a.l.s to take out osama bin laden, right? nobody did. he's american. stop this stuff. michael, you should speak up and tell your people to stop it. >> well, yeah, i had that ability at one time, but -- >> you still do. you still do. >> i think that this is an overreach here by you, chris. in terms of -- >> okay. here's more of romney. give you another shot. here's romney who said the president never had a job and was elected because he was well spoken.
let's listen to -- this is -- is this a guy from 1953 or what? let's listen to this guy. >> okay. >> we elected barack obama, a guy we didn't know terribly well, who didn't have a very extensive record. no experience in the private sector. no experience in leadership. no experience really in negotiations. and we said, let's give this guy a chance because he was so well spoken and promised a lot of things we liked. now three years later, into his fourth term, we don't have to just look at the promises, we can look at the record. and the truth is that barack obama has failed america. and i believe it's time to have someone who's actually had a job do the job of getting jobs for the american people. >> so what do you make of that phrase? governor, chris rock is so funny on this. years ago i saw him do a routine. chris rock says there's an african-american guy going for a job, he's so well spoken. he's supposed to be well spoken. he's a college guy. what do you mean well spoken? i can't do it as well as rock. what do you think of that
phrase? >> i hate it personally. i hate it when i hear people refer to african-americans who clearly have the gravitas to stand toe to toe with anybody, as articulate. you know, but look, the reality of it is -- >> was this guy out of touch? >> i don't think he's out of touch. i think he's just expressing what a lot of people out there believe about the president at one level or another that, yeah, i mean, he was a guy who came to the table as a two-term state senator, ran for the presidency of the united states after about 12, 18 months in the senate. and that's the level of what he brings to the table. >> chris, i'm amazed. abraham lincoln is considered the greatest republican president in history. maybe the greatest president in our history. do you know what his public experience was? he was a one-term state representative and a one-term u.s. congressman.
less experience than barack obama had. >> and, governor, i'll ask you the question -- >> and he was a great president. >> do you think that is the standard by which we're going to elect presidents in the future? i think that's changed. that's the only argument. it clearly didn't -- >> let's go to the question -- >> nothing to do with that. >> paul ryan, who i have to respect, i don't think he's right on medicare, but he may be along the right line. something has to be done about medicare. we know that. we have a complete picture now of the exchange that went on between the congressman from wisconsin and president obama on wednesday. ryan accused the president of mischaracterizing his medicare overhaul plan and asked him to ease up on the demagoguery. here's how he described it. let's listen. >> i just said, we have to take on this debt and if we demagogue each other at the leadership level, then we're never going to take on our debt. we have a debt crisis coming. we want to deal with this. if we want to grow jobs in the economy, we have to get our spending under control, our debt under control and if we try to demagogue each other's attempts to do that, then we're not applying the kind of political leadership we need to get this economy going to get his debt under control. >> fair enough. in response president obama said he was no stranger to outlandish
depictions then fired back this. "i'm the death-panel-supporting, socialist, may-not-have-been-born here president. there's the president reminding everybody how he's been demagogued by your party. >> absolutely. i think both men make the right point. but what i want to talk about on monday morning is how does the local grocer allow him or herself the opportunity to go into the marketplace to hire again. >> thank you, gentlemen. by the way, your governor is christie in new jersey and that guy rick, what's his name down in florida? >> yeah. >> what a loser that guy is. he's against the railroad and christie is against the tunnel. so don't tell me your party is for infrastructure. they are no men all along. they are for nothing. >> they used to be for infrastructure. they used to be. >> lincoln built the railroads. >> absolutely. >> we don't have the money to do it. >> yes, we do! yes, we do. iraq and afghanistan, that's where it is.
>> thank you, ed rendell, thank you, governor. thanks. have a nice weekend. michael steele, thank you. coming up, the dramatic fall from grace for john edwards, a murky story. we'll keep wide open about what is going on here. i'm not sure if this is a real case or not. he pled not guilty today. he's charged with soliciting campaign funds and then covering -- cover up an extramarital affair. i think he was covering it up, i'm not sure they're campaign funds. let's get to the politics and the law with the prosecution of this former presidential candidate by an appointee of george w. bush. let's find out what's really going on here. you're watching requested "hardball" on msnbc. ♪ that's why right here, in australia, chevron is building one of the biggest natural gas projects in the world. enough power for a city the size of singapore for 50 years. what's it going to do to the planet? natural gas is the cleanest conventional fuel there is. we've got to be smart about this. it's a smart way to go. ♪
and i will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that i've caused to others. but i did not break the law and i never, ever thought i was breaking the law. thank you, all, very much. >> wow, it looks like the guy hasn't aged a bit. that was two-time congressional candidate, presidential candidate and former senator, u.s. senator john edwards earlier today indicted by a grand jury. he's accused of receiving nearly a million dollars of illegal campaign funds and using the money to hide his mistress and their baby. out of fear of ruining his 2008 run for the white house. pete williams is the best there is on this. nbc news justice correspondent. karen finney, pretty good, too, msnbc political analyst and columnist for "the hill." i'm just teasing. former spokesperson for the edwards family. you have a different angle on this. let's get to the law and the politics of this. it strikes me their main case is a conspiracy, that bunny mellon,
the other contributor, fred -- what's his last name? baron. gave the money to help him out of an embarrassment, a child he had with this woman. it was not perceived by them to be a campaign contribution. but the courts, the justice department claiming it is. >> that's exactly it. the question is, what was this money for? the government says if it had become public he had a mistress and fathered a child with her, it would have destroyed his campaign. he was, after all, the government said, someone who presented himself as a family man, though i think if he hadn't, it would have probably still destroyed a campaign. they say this whole thing, it's all about -- it was campaign money. it was intended to prevent the campaign from having to deal with it. if it had become public, the government says, they would have had to spend a lot of campaign time and resources fighting this. they say this is a campaign contribution. remember, it's important to remember, they're not saying that you can't spend money to
conceal that you have a mistress. they're not saying you can't have a mistress. what they're saying is the people who gave the money, nearly $1 million, $925,000, exceeded the individual campaign contribution limit which at the time -- >> okay. let's try something else. under that theory of the law, suppose he had a cousin who had tremendous health problems and he couldn't pay for it out of his own money because his wife didn't want to it and said, this is going to completely distract me and the whole campaign, my cousin is in bad shape, i need financial help from mrs. mellon. if there was no sex, intrigue involved, whatever, would it still be a case brought by the justice department? >> possibly. >> is it because it's scurrilous? >> who knows. one of the tests is whether you had a previous relationship with somebody giving you gifts in the past. >> i see. >> the thing you said, the keep this from being a distraction, that might throw it in. it's important to say that the government's theory in the case here has never been used, and this is a point that edwards' lawyers are making. this is a novel application of the campaign law.
and so while the case may look strong on paper, and many legal experts say it does, it's never been tested in the court. >> suppose, you start on this, every time i read about a politician, i hear about him staying at somebody wealthy person's house. they stay there. they may be with them or not, may let them stay there alone for a while. this goes on all the time. under this theory of the law it's a campaign contribution because it gives a guy r&r, it gives him a break that will help him be more exciting during a campaign. that's never been interpreted that way, has it? >> oh, sure. >> has it? >> you'd have to determine what is the value of staying at their house, all of that, to determine whether or not it was a contribution. >> they never filed this as a campaign contribution. they never said, here's -- they know the limit is $2,300. it couldn't -- when did it become -- >> furniture and -- >> what's your political view? do you think there's politics -- was it a republican u.s. attorney going after this guy, sticking around to do the dirty work for the rs? i'm asking you. >> i know you are. >> 2 1/2 years to make this case. >> they wanted to take their
time to make sure they have a good case. whether or not they do is what we're going to find out. i don't know. it's disturbing if it's true that this would actually create a whole new sort of way around campaign finance laws in theory. right? because you could say, well, the money wasn't for my campaign, it was for my sick cousin. i think that's part of the -- >> you know what struck me and i'm no fan of edwards, i think he was a little too slick, i think he's too slick as a trial lawyer too. i think he works the older rural people to his advantage. that's a judgment i admit upfront. i would admit, his best case will be, this has never been used this way. whenever you have a law that's never been used this way, the jury is going to say, why this time? >> they're starting that today. that was his point today. >> that's where i learned it from. >> he's right. >> thank you. it is. i don't like original law enforcement. anyway, thank you. that's how they got capone. not the same story. pete williams, karen finney. here's everything you need to know about the republican field. the main newspaper in new
hampshire today puts sarah palin on its front page and bumped the story of mitt romney's big announcement he's running for president to the inside. wait until you hear palin's history lesson about paul revere. talk about originality. it has something to do with the nra. i don't know where she got this stuff from. catch the side show next. karen finney. thank you for joining us. i got your name wrong. for strong bones, i take calcium. but my doctor told me that most calcium supplements... aren't absorbed properly unless taken with food. he recommended citracal. it's different -- it's calcium citrate, so it can be absorbed with or without food. citracal.
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back to "hardball." now to the sideshow. first up, as promised a headline showdown. mitt romney hoped to win yesterday's news cycle with his rollout in new hampshire. the hitch, sarah palin. she crashed the party with her big, bad bus tour. today's new hampshire's biggest newspaper "the union leader" made its verdict. no surprise. look at that picture. gets the big splash.
the big photo on the front page with the headline, palin hits the seacoast. while mitt romney is reduced to the smallest item, a little inset on the page. on the bottom, a story about a rabid fox that got a bigger headline. a rabid fox. than romney. romney, you could say, was left buried in the alaska tundra. next up, too good to be true, history according to sarah palin. yesterday, she visited paul revere's house up in boston. revolutionary war hero famous for warning colonists of the approaching british army through his secret midnight ride. here's palin's take. >> he who warned the british they weren't going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed. >> oh, god. that speaks for her credentials more than anything else. i remember steve schmidt said
after meeting her and listening to her saying she doesn't know anything. by the way, it is one if by land, two if by sea, the signals he was giving if the british were coming. everybody knows that. that's "hardball" for now. up next, "your business" with j.j. ramberg. hey, did you ever finish last month's invoices? sadly, no. oh. but i did pick up your dry cleaning and had your shoes shined. well, i made you a reservation at the sushi place around the corner. well, in that case, i better get back to these invoices... which i'll do right after making your favorite pancakes.
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